"I'm so sorry, brother."

"Loki!" His brother took one last regretful look at Thor, before turning and walking straight into the Tessaract portal, his magic counteracting the magic shielding it. He reached forward and grasped the cube, before disappearing in a blinding explosion of blue light. Above them, the portal collapsed inward and around them the Chitauri started to fall, But Thor's eyes were fixed on the spot where his brother had been. The light cleared and his eyes adjusted, leaving him staring at the blackened metal portal frame, and a charred golden helmet lying in the dust.

"Wake up, Boy!"

The young boy lying on the steps of an old shop was rudely awakened by a kick to the ribs. He jumped up, glaring at his assaulter. But when he saw him raise the heavy rolling pin, he turned and scurried away.

'What was I doing there?' he wondered as he turned into the busy street. 'I don't remember lying down...'

He searched his mind, trying to remember anything. Nothing came to mind. He stopped suddenly, realizing just how little he could recall. There had been light, then... he had woken up. Nothing else. 'I don't know my name. Do I have a name?'

Looking around frantically, he ran towards a dark window. His own reflection stared back at him, and although it seemed right he didn't recall having seen it before. He looked like he might be eleven or twelve, with pitch-black hair that fell around his ears and bright, curious green eyes. He was dressed in a plain black t-shirt, with torn blue jeans and scrappy yellow tennis shoes. He searched his pockets, but there was no money or identification.

"Hey, boy! Get outta the way! He jumped to the side just in time to avoid being thrown to the curb by a speeding bicycle.

He finally took a look around and surveyed the place he had inexplicably found himself. The streets of the city were bustling with people, even though it appeared to be quite early in the morning. Cars rushed by, and pedestrians shoved past the small boy as they hurried to work. He turned and walked along with the flow of activity to avoid being trampled, while trying to figure out what to do next. He had no money, no name, no memory. His stomach felt empty, and he knew that he needed to eat soon.

The smell of something frying drew him a ways down the street and towards a metal cart selling some sort of sausage. The sign on the side read 'two dollars'. The nearness of the food only made the pains in his stomach increase, and he started racking his brain for a way to pay for a meal. Glancing around, his eyes landed on a man standing alone and fumbling with a camera. A tourist, judging by the expensive jeans and the unfortunately pattered shirt. Out of his back pocket, a glimpse of green caught his gaze.

That's just lazy. He's practically begging for someone to take it! The boy reasoned with himself as he walked towards the tall man, aiming his path to pass directly behind him. His hands were quick, and he slid the slip of paper from the jean pocket easily. The movement came naturally to him, as though he had done it a thousand times. Not really a skill someone with no remembered past wants to discover.

When he had walked a reasonable distance from his victim, he examined the bill clutched in his hands. Twenty. That would definitely buy him breakfast, and with luck he could draw it out until he could figure out what the hell he was going to do.

Walking up to the food stand, he handed his money to the vendor.

"Hey there." The man said as he counted his change. "Where're your parents? It's not safe for a kid to be wandering around alone."

Without a moment of hesitation, the boy smiled charmingly up at him. "My mom's with me. She stepped into a shop and said I could buy myself breakfast. "

"Ok. Better not leave her for too long." He smiled at the kid, handing him his money and his food before turning back to his cart.

Brushing his hair from his eyes, the boy walked off, taking an eager bite of the meat as he walked along the sidewalk. He passed dozens of stores and alleyways, but none of them seemed like a place to start. He tossed the greasy napkin into a trash can, and spotted a flyer taped to the telephone pole it was leaning against.


An address was scrawled beneath, and glancing up and down the street he saw a match. Maggie's used books. I can work with that.

He crossed the street and walked quickly over to the store. A green wooden sign had the name carved into it, and it the windows were covered by heavy black curtains. Stopping in front, he looked himself over in the dark glass. His hair was ragged and too long to look neat. He ran his fingers through it in a vain attempt to get it away from his eyes, but only succeeded in mussing it more. He wiped the grease from his meal off onto his jeans, straightened his shirt, and pulled open the heavy door.

A bell quietly rang above his head as he lightly stepped in to the shop. Soft, warm light came from lamps placed randomly on shelves, amongst the books, which covered every inch of available space. The room was small, and three of the walls were almost entirely lined with shelves. Five more tall shelves created rows in the middle of the store, and in the corner there was a desk. A young woman sat there, with her feet propped up on the wood and a laptop balanced against her legs. The store was dark for a book store, but the screen illuminated her face. She had long, wavy brown hair and blue eyes. She was kind of pretty, but not strikingly. She looked up when he closed the door and smiled at him.

"Hi! Can I help you?"

He ran his fingers through his hair one last time. "Yes, actually. I saw a sign down the street. Helper needed?"

"Oh, ok!" She scrambled to put the computer down and stand up. "You're the first one to come by." Looking closer at him, she frowned. "How old are you? I know I said age doesn't matter, because it's technically not a real job, but I'd feel bad keeping a nine year old kid cooped up in here with me for a few bucks."

"I'm not nine!" he replied indignantly. "I'm.. Twelve." He picked the age because it was probably the oldest he could pass for, and he had no idea what his real age was. "I can work, I don't mind being indoors."

"I can't really pay you much, you know. Maybe ten dollars a day or something. I just need someone to organize and sweep, stuff like that."

"That's fine," he said immediately, "I just need a job." Ten dollars a day would feed him. That was priority.

"Ok… if you're sure." Leaning on the edge of her desk, she surveyed the scrappy boy in front of her. He was skinny, but his eyes were bright. "What's your name?"

Crap. Why didn't I think of that? He cast his mind around for a name, any name at all. "Luke." He had no idea why he'd said that, and it didn't sound quite right to him. But it felt half familiar on his tongue, and he supposed it would work.

"Alright then, Luke. Do you think you can start today?"

"Yes, Ma'am." He figured politeness was best, as he was now relying on this woman for money.

"Oh, don't call me that. It's Maggie. And in that case, you can start over here. Some jackasses decided that none of the books they were looking at needed to be put back where they went." She gestured to a small stack of maybe fifteen books in a pile near her desk. "Could you put them back on the shelves? Things are organized by type, and then author name." Remembering how young he was, she added, "Do you want me to show you?"

"It's ok. I'll figure it out." He walked over to the books, grabbing three. He was small for twelve, she thought, and his thin fingers looked strange gripping the heavy leather covers. Green eyes examined the spine seriously before he turned and disappeared behind a shelf. Slowly, she sat back down at her desk. What a weird kid.

'Luke' Walked along the biographies shelf, scanning for the name Mark Twain. Ten dollars a day was pretty good, considering he couldn't legally get a job. As he slid the book into place, the quiet of the room and the calmness of his activity were allowing the events of the day to finally sink in. I have no idea who I am. I have literally no memories. I have no home, and no family. Who the hell am I, and what the hell happened to me? His hands shook slightly as he read the next book spine. The Time Machine, Wells, science fiction. I'm probably going to freak out about this later.

The shelves were a good two feet taller than him, maybe more, and he had to stretch to slide the book into place. He distracted himself by getting through the stack of books as quickly as possible, trying to avoid thinking about his predicament. When he was done, Maggie had him sit next to her desk and put stickers on books according to genre. They sat there in silence for a while, the only sounds being her keyboard and the sound of books being moved and the occasional page being flipped.

"Hey, Luke. What time do you need to be home by?"

The boy set his book down carefully. "I don't." Quickly realizing that this was a fairly suspicious answer, he added, "I mean my parents don't really care. I usually just wander around the city during the day. This is way better." This was as close to the truth as he was willing to go. He knew that telling her he was homeless and without family would cause her to want nothing to do with him, and he needed money. He didn't look up to gauge her reaction, instead flipping open the next book to look for genre.

Maggie stopped typing to stare at the boy. What kind of twelve year old was left alone all day? And what kid would rather spend his time in a dark room than out in the city? He continued to work as though he hadn't said anything unusual, still focused and quiet. She hadn't really looked that closely at him before, and little things were starting to pop out. The hair that looked like it hadn't been cut in a month. The raggedy jeans, the pale thinness of his arms. He sat up perfectly straight as he worked, and there was a smoothness in his movements that was strange to see in a twelve year old boy. There was something off about him, and it drew her towards him. She had always had a bit of a problem with curiosity, and hoped that keeping the kid on wouldn't come back to bite her later.

This fic is going to be for NaNoWriMo, so it may seem like I rush a bit. Sorry about that, but I promise my writing will improve as I get into it. I haven't written a word in months. This chapter will likely get fixed up a bit sometime in the next week, before friday when I'll update the next chapter.

I'd love it f you reviewed, I need all the help, suggestions, and encouragement i can get.